Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Throwback(s) Of The Month: Echo & The Lyricist Lounge Present The Underground Airplay Mixtapes Vol. 2 - 5

I don't know if you remember or not, but as far back as 93' when Ecko Unlimited clothing was new and still known as "Echo" Unlimited (they caught a nasty lawsuit and had to change the spelling of "Echo") the upstart clothing line whose then feature garments were T-Shirts with graffiti writing on them changed the game forever and proved that music and fashion in Hip-Hop went hand in hand.

Marc Ecko was a huge hip-hop head/graff fan and he was competing feverishly to keep his fledgling clothing line relevant in the midst of other brands growing in popularity (yes, Fubu, Nautica, Mecca, Timberland, Polo Sport, and Tommy Hilfiger were threatening his business). Ecko had an advantage though. He already in a short amount of time had managed to gain a decent cult following because from day one his brand was dedicated to the underground Hip-Hop culture. In an attempt to appeal to that core audience of saavy street-influenced consumers the Echo brand would join forces with the ultra respected Hip-Hop troop, The Lyricist Lounge and release a free mixtape in conjunction with the purchase of their T-shirts.....they dubbed it the "One shirt, One tape, One Love" philosophy. These tapes that I'm dropping here (excluding the first one) were the first hand full, and they represented true hip-hop to the highest degree. Mainly containing tracks from little known underground artist's around the Tri-state area, they are collector's gems these days if you can find any of em' in their original cassette tape format. They were called "Underground Airplay" and I can remember these tapes being directly attached to the shirt, but after awhile they started coming separate and you would have to buy a piece of Ecko clothing and then at the cash register they would hand you the tape......lol, I knew that theft was gonna be a problem, these tapes were just too ill....they continued droppin' the Underground Airplay tapes up until about 2001 I think, then they chilled... partially because of the decline in the popularity in tapes I would assume, but I don't know for sure. For the most part DJ Spinbad was at the helm on the 1's & 2's for most of these mixes, and he always did a great job.

These tapes really cemented my already high opinion of Marc Ecko. Not only was he a marketing genius, but a real head that was trying to help out some of the truly talented, but often overlooked emcee's from New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania find an outlet for their music. Ecko knew the love affair that real heads had with mixtapes and he was somehow able to find the resources to routinely include a new one with his latest gear. Talk about quality man. I was already buying Echo shirts back in the day, but then a free tape started coming wit em'....Marc just understood us mid nineties hip-hoppers man.....I know it's sort of off-topic for me to mention this, but to me it's kinda sad to see how corporate Ecko has become. I don't know his level of involvement on the designs on his shirts and whatnot is anymore, but I know I haven't bought anything Ecko since prolly around 2001. But I digress......

Underground Airplay was pure magic from the start and revisiting these joints brought back a lot of really fond memories, not only of the music, but just the whole culture of Hip-Hop back then.....

Tons of long forgotten ill artist's and Groups are on these joints man....from Mr. Voodoo, Vice Grip, Pound Of Chaos, Trix Galore, Menace, Mellow E, U.T.D., Ran Reed, Sinister Voices, Dirty Dozens & PSP, one found that the authenticity of the phone number that was on the front of the tapes instructing artist's to send their demo's in was absolutely credible. Don't get it twisted though, plenty of established underground acts graced these immaculate time capsules as well...Shabaam Sahdeeq, Chubb Rock, The Cella Dwellas, Al Tariq, Grand Puba, Agallah, Mad Skillz, Craig Mack and a certain legendary producer that was then going by the name T-Neck Nick at the time...that's right Rakim's longtime hitman Nick Wiz also found some of his work featured on these historic tapes.

These joints are incredible, please enjoy....Big time props to the good bruthas at Philaflava.com who hooked up these rips and the cover scans.....ya'll are the shit for these man, straight up and down.....


*sorry no tracklists*

Underground Airplay Vol. II: "The Cypha Continues..."


Underground Airplay Vol. III: Burdens Of Tropheys


Underground Airplay Vol. IV: Certified East Coast Bomb


Underground Airplay Vol. 5: Reborn



johnny23 said...

Real dope.

Anonymous said...

yo BIG D O i gotta question, i have 2 underground airplay cassetts and cases, completley MINT. vol 3 and 4. how much do you think theyll go for? get back to me at anthonyypimpszz@aim.com thnx alot man i appreciate it

Unknown said...

Could you re-up these links?? Major thanks.